Switching to Whites

Three very quick write-ups--hopefully the pictures will say 1000 words--to get some empty bottles out of here.

It's spring so I'm switching to whites.  I'm still debating exactly what whites to focus on through September, so today's report is a bit of a grab bag.

My friend at the local Liquee Mart recommended this blanc de blanc that they had featured at a wine tasting a few days before, so I picked it up.  It ran me roughly $10.

I've never had a blanc de blanc before.  This is a Marquis de Perlade that hails from Sigolsheim in Alsace.  If you, like me, don't/didn't know what a blanc de blanc is: it's a sparkling wine, usually made exclusively from chardonnay grapes. The label doesn't say if this is 100% chardonnay.

I liked it.  The wine seemed a little dry at first, though I tend to prefer dry wines, but a sweetness comes through.  A good balance of the two. I'm not that big on sparkling wines from anywhere, but this one isn't bad and would be nice with a meal.

The second wine is a 2009 Damana Verdejo from Rueda, Spain, which ran me $15.  Rueda is in the NW part of Spain a little south of the latitude line going through the northern border of Portugal, and is a major wine-growing region best known for its wines made from verdejo grapes.

Verdejo grapes are very interesting. I'll try to talk more about them again, but I'll start by saying they were used to make a sherry-type wine until the 1970s, when a move began to make whites from them.

My first take is if you drank this without knowing what it was, you'd think it was a Sauvignon Blanc [and it's often mixed with SB for blends].  Both the nose and the taste, though I didn't get any of SB's infamous 'cat pee'.  I like SBs, and this one was full of subtle notes.  I think I got some vanilla, and it was very fruity, tending towards apple.  I drank most of this bottle in one sitting [and didn't get a major buzz from it].  I really recommend it.

Last, a bit of an oddity, is a white from Crete, a 2006 Kretikos Boutari from the northern part of the island made with the indigenous Vilana grapes.  I picked this up on sale for $10.

I drank this a couple weeks ago so my tasting memory has faded, but it reminded me a little of retsina.  I'm one of the 5 Americans not of Greek extraction who like retsina, so I liked this wine.  It wasn't stellar but it was enjoyable.  This would go well with appetizers or maybe more strongly flavored fish or octopus/calamari.

Last Syrah and Chianti of the Season

To wrap up my fall-winter syrahs and chiantis, I tried a shiraz-viognier blend from Australia (which ran me about $20) and a classic Ruffino chianti (about $14).

The syrah [properly shiraz] is a 2007 Black Chook from Australia.  This is a 95-5 shiraz-viognier blend, made by Ben Riggs in South Australia and aged in French Oak.

I found this a little sweeter than other syrahs/shirazes, maybe because of the viognier?, but less tannic (if that's a word) than most of them I've tried.

This isn't a bad wine, although I didn't find its flavors terribly subtle or distinguished.  But after spending $20 for it, I felt obliged to finish the bottle.

I read somewhere that Ruffinos are the archetypal chiantis, so I figured I should try one.  This 2007 Chianti Classico was a good one to wrap up with because it was one of the few that I didn't find flat and rather tasteless.  I didn't find it full of subtle flavors, my complaint with almost all the chiantis I tried, but it was drinkable, which some bottles weren't.

To sum up my winter drinking: my favorite syrahs/shirazes were the subtle and flavorful 2003 Marques de Grinon syrah from Spain and the very smoky 2004 Sincerely shiraz from South Africa.  A lot of the syrahs were just too sharp for my tastebuds.

My favorite chiantis were the very inexpensive Candoni chianti and the much more expensive ($30) Querceto from my last posting, although this Ruffino was almost as good as the Querceto at half the price.

2003 Querceto Chianti Classico, 2008 Red Bicyclette Syrarh, & 2007 Castle Rock Syrah

I'm falling farther behind again on my reviews, so I'll whip through these 3 bottles of vino drunk over the last 3 weeks, 2 syrahs and a chianti (the whipping witnessed by the rather slapdash quality of my photos of these).

The first is a 2007 Red Bicyclette syrah.  I'd heard good press on Red Bicyclette, but I didn't like it.  I thought the flavor was pretty thin and not much nose.  I don't think I even finished the bottle, though I can say that about 9 out of 10 syrahs I've drunk this winter.

Next is a 2007 Castle Rock syrah from the Russian River.  My local Liquee Mart had a tasting of Castle Rock this past Thursday and I'm sorry I couldn't get there because I rather liked this syrah.  It's about the only American syrah that I've drunk this winter that I did like.  I got a bit of a molasses note from it, and I drank the whole bottle pretty quickly.

Last is a 2003 Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, which ran me $30.  This was tied with the $10 Candoni from a month or so ago for the best [and only] chiantis that I liked.  This would be a good wine to match with a nice Italian spread of antipasti and the whole shebang.  My only complaint is I had to spread drinking it over several days, and it definitely lost a lot of its flavor.  But my fault to blow a $30 wine, not the $30 wine's.

I'm going to review one more syrah and one more chianti to finish up my winter drinking--though we're already 2 weeks into spring--and then I'll switch to a couple whites for summer.  I haven't decided for sure which, but maybe pinot blanc and chablis. And I'll try to post more regularly [hopefully I'll be drinking wines I like the next 6 months].